Workshop Report – Bolton Abbey April 2018

After a very cold start to spring it seemed that the weather had switched to mid summer in one go so sun screen was the order of the day rather than umbrellas on our first visit to Bolton Abbey of the season (though we did take a couple of brollies along in case of afternoon thunderstorms!).

Photographing reflections in the River Wharfe in Strid Wood

We started off the day as usual in the comfort of the Tea Cottage at Bolton Abbey with introductions and a chat about landscape photography over tea and coffee before setting off across the River Wharfe and up to the viewpoint on the other side of the valley with a couple of fabulous views down to the priory ruins by the river.  Here we set up the tripods for the first time and got used to working with the histogram when making exposures.

Amongst the Wild Garlic in Strid Wood

From the viewpoint we made our way along the riverside path and into Strid Wood where the woodland floor was carpeted with lush wild garlic leaves creating an interesting photographic subject as well as a pungent aroma!  The sunny conditions made woodland photography a little tricky but patches of dappled shade worked well with the garlic and also with reflections in the river as the breeze came and went rippling the surface of the water and making some great abstract images (one or two of these looked great at the post-processing session the following day!)

Photographing moving water details at The Strid

We made our way up to The Strid itself for a spot of lunch before setting about photographing the raging River Wharfe as it passes through the narrow and deep rocky constriction which makes this stretch of the river so appealing – and dangerous!  The light again made this sort of photography quite tricky but some areas of open shade produced some lovely moving water images and in places – particularly the still water above The Strid – the light gave an almost golden glow off the surface of the water mingled with blue tones from the sky.  Backlighting on the vibrant green moss also made some great detail images.

Photographing High Strid from above

We spent plenty of time at The Strid but eventually tore ourselves away, heading upstream and out of the woods into baking sunshine before crossing the bridge and following the return path back into the woodland on the other side of the river.  The cold spring meant that the bluebells were a bit late so out usual bluebell stop was only worth a quick look and we were on the lookout for some other images along the way, and added a couple of stops before Harrison’s Ford Seat including a viewpoint over the High Strid.  The wider view here proved tricky with the strong sunlight but the High Strid was nicely shaded and surrounded by mossy rocks with a row of backlit trees alongside which made some great images with longer lenses.

Admiring the view at Harrison’s Ford Seat

At Harrison’s Ford Seat itself we had some softer light with a bit of light cloud cover so we spent some time waiting for the light to come and go which worked nicely with the spindly tree yet to come into leaf with a backdrop of fresh green leaves on birch trees in the distance.

A break from the tripod – making intentional camera movement images!

Back down by the riverside we had a quick look at the bluebells (yet to reach their peak) and then set about having a go at creating some intentional camera movement images using the nice vertical tree trunks by the path with a backdrop of bright green foliage.


This again produced some lovely abstract images which worked nicely at the post-processing session.

Photographing some lovely light on the priory ruins at the end of the day

As we made our way out of the woods the cloud started to build – but the predicted thunderstorms didn’t arrive until much later in the day so we didn’t need the brollies!  We thought when we arrived back at the priory ruins that we wouldn’t get a final shot of the abbey but just as we got back to the viewpoint by the Tea Cottage a nice break in the clouds provided us with some lovely light to round off the day.

All in all we’d had a good day’s photography in pleasant weather and we were treated to some great results in the post-processing session in Harrogate the next day!

If you’d like to join us for a workshop at Bolton Abbey and Strid Wood (the next visit is in May by which time the wild garlic should be in flower) then take a look at the Bolton Abbey page on the website.

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